A PORTABLE pyramid made of aluminium tubing has been developed by a researcher in Queensland to protect people against being struck by lightning. In laboratory tests, the inventor, Mat Darveniza of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, stood under the pyramid and subjected it to 1 million volts. “I felt absolutely no sensation,” he says, “nor should I have.” Darveniza’s device consists of three aluminium tubes joined together to form a pyramid-shaped frame. “It’s very simple, but like many simple ideas it’s effective,” he says. When lightning strikes, the charge passes harmlessly through to the ground. The tubes can be telescoped down for easy transport. Larger devices are being developed to protect groups of people and equipment. During severe electrical storms there must be a gap of at least 25 centimetres between the frame and those sheltering inside to guarantee safety, says Darveniza. Research on the device followed a request from the Ministry of Defence in Singapore,
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